Welcome to another edition of our NBA Preview here at PlayON’s Daily Fantasy Focus.
Below is a breakdown of my fantasy picks at each position for tonight’s game. Once you’ve seen who I like, be sure to lock in your line-ups and win some cash tonight.
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Point guard – John Wall, Washington Wizards: $21.1 million
Wall is on a particularly good run of form at the moment. In four January games, he has averaged 25.3 points, 11.3 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 2.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, all good in total for a fantasy point average of 51.1. Further factoring into his selection here is that Wall’s Wizards are tonight playing against the Orlando Magic, losers of 23 of their last 27 games and stuck with the fourth worst defence in the league. And thus he might feast tonight.
Point guard – Malcolm Delaney, Atlanta Hawks: $6.9 million
Starting the season very poorly, even losing his spot to Isaiah Taylor at one point, Delaney has improved throughout the year to date, and has now won it back. In January, he is averaging 7.4 points, 3.8 assists and 2.2 rebounds per game, with a 9.5:1 assist to turnover ratio. Delaney’s offensive rating by month has gone from 88 to 94 to 120 to 121, a measure of how much more comfortable he suddenly looks offensively. With free agency coming up, as well as the magical age of 30 threshold, Delaney is playing for his job, but he’s doing it quite well.
Shooting guard – Eric Gordon, Houston Rockets: $15.3 million
Gordon really is making the step up in the absence of James Harden, and indeed sees noticeable improvements in his production when he steps up to start. In between covering for The Beard and before him Chris Paul, Gordon has averaged 22.6 points, 3.8 assists and 3.0 rebounds per game in 22 starts, which drops down to 16.5 points, 1.1 assists and 1.5 rebounds per game when coming off the bench. As a starter, Gordon has greater responsibility to move the ball, find team mates and driving to the basket than he does as a pure outside gunner off the bench, so bear this in mind in any night that he starts.
Small forward – Mario Hezonja, Orlando Magic: $7.0 million
It is hard to ever pinpoint Hezonja’s role on the team. Always the fall guy and the odd one out in previous years, Hezonja’s improved if imperfect play this year has seen him earn his minutes – it’s just not clear when or where they will come from. Of late, Hezonja is back in the fold at both forward spots, playing in the absences of Terrence Ross and Jonathan Isaac, and playing more when Jonathan Simmons is also out. Averaging 27 fantasy points over the last four games, Hezonja is in Scott Skiles’s good books again, and hopefully this time he will stay there.
Small forward – Michael Beasley, New York Knicks: $11.6 million
The Beasley revolution continues. In four January games thus far, Beasley has averaged 21.0 points, 11.0 rebounds, 2.0 assists, 1.3 steals and 1.0 blocks per game, playing better than Tim Hardaway Jr ever did.
Power forward – Trey Lyles, Denver Nuggets: $10.6 million
Lyles’s price has, finally, started to go up. But don’t let that deter you. Nor should you let the fact that his usual highly efficient fell by the wayside in the last game, as the 52.6% shooter on the season made only 2-8 shots for a change. Because even though he played poorly by his standards, Lyles still recorded 11 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists and a block for 24.7 fantasy points, and even that, as a relatively bad game, is still good fantasy value.
Power forward – Ekpe Udoh, Utah Jazz: $7.1 million
Derrick Favors turned his ankle two games ago, and missed the last game due to the subsequent strain. He was listed as “probable” before tip-off, but per the NBA Operations Manual, “probable” means he is considered as having a 75% chance of playing, and after suffering discomfort during warm-ups, he ultimately did not play. Udoh thus got the start at centre, and while his offensive limitations are significant (he has no shooting range, no explosion, needs setting up for everything, and even then he might drop it) and his defensive rebounding rate very poor (justifiably so due to how many shots he contests), Udoh can nevertheless produce in minutes. An extremely good interior defensive player, Udoh averages 9.0 points, 7.3 rebounds, 3.0 blocks, 2.7 steals and 2.0 assists per game as a starter, good for a 37.9 fantasy point average, whereas as a reserve, he has no value. Favors is again listed as “probable”, but keep tabs on him until the line-up deadline, and if he cannot go, take Udoh.
Centre – Tristan Thompson, Cleveland Cavaliers: $7.2 million
Although his team is starting to flounder, Thompson is at least getting his game back. He has averaged 20.9 fantasy points over the last six games, rebounding well and finishing better around the basket. Thompson gets less high-value defensive stats than most centres, yet the value is there at this price, as is the consistency.
Centre – Bismack Biyombo, Orlando Magic: $8.0 million
Biyombo’s prices has already increased, but barely, while his role has not diminished any. The only post player and interior defender on the team right now, Biyombo averages 8.8 points, 10.8 rebounds, 0.8 assists and 1.9 blocks per game. He would have fantasy value at this price even if he never scored a single basket.
As with all NBA slates, we need to be sure to avoid certain players each night.
Here’s who you should steer clear of.
DO NOT PICK DUE TO INJURY/ABSENCE/SUSPENSION: De’Andre Bembry, Marco Belinelli (Atlanta), Jeremy Lin, D’Angelo Russell (Brooklyn), Cody Zeller (Charlotte), Isaiah Thomas, John Holland, Derrick Rose (Cleveland), Paul Millsap (Denver), Chris Boucher (Golden State), Zhou Qi, James Harden, Luc Richard Mbah A Moute, Troy Williams, Tarik Black, Nene (Houston), Myles Turner, Glenn Robinson III, Edmond Sumner (Indiana), Chandler Parsons, Mike Conley (Memphis), Mirza Teletovic, Jabari Parker (Milwaukee), Alexis Ajinca, Tony Allen, Solomon Hill, Frank Jackson, Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Tim Hardaway Jr (New York), Andre Roberson (Oklahoma City), Terrence Ross, Jonathan Isaac, Nikola Vucevic (Orlando), Marquese Chriss, Josh Jackson, Alan Williams, Brandon Knight, Isaiah Canaan (Phoenix), C.J. Wilcox (Portland), Raul Neto, Dante Exum, Rudy Gobert (Utah), Sheldon Mac (Washington)
That’s all for today’s analysis. Be sure to get your line-ups in!